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Failing to reach an agreement on the filling of the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam (GERD), the three main protagonists of the dispute, Ethiopia and the two downstream countries, Egypt and Sudan, have once again reached an understanding to hold another round of discussions. But nine years and 100 billion Br later, on the eve of the planned filling of the Dam, Ethiopia finds itself embroiled in a geopolitical spat that has evolved to touch upon race relations, colonial history, Middle Eastern affairs and American politics.

Over a week ago, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed (PhD) met a delegation from Sudan to discuss “key issues," a few days after the country rejected Ethiopia’s proposal for an agreement that would pave the path for filling the Dam. After holding a virtual meeting last Thursday with Sudanese Prime Minister Abdalla Hamdok, it was announced that discussions over technical issues would continue.

With Ethiopia eyeing to start filling the Dam this July, Egypt has expressed that it is willing to restart negotiations with the two other countries, an allaying of hostilities after the matter was brought before the United Nations Security Council.

Nonetheless, neither country is under the illusion that this is a matter limited to the diplomatic relations and the issue of equitable use of water resources between the two countries and Sudan. It has become an international agendum, for which both countries are trying to make their cases before the global community.

The Ethiopian ministers of Foreign Affairs and Water, Irrigation & Energy have been on a diplomatic campaign, meeting with ambassadors from Africa, Asia, the Pacific region and the Middle East over the last three weeks.

“It’s important to redress Egypt’s escalation of the matter to a political issue,” said Rediwan Hussien, state minister for Foreign Affairs.

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